Does this look like fun to you?
If this is what you love to do or think would be a great challenge, you are probably right, but don’t forget to get your body ready for the challenge.
What do I mean by “get your body ready”? I mean align and balance your posture. If you have posture imbalances (we all do) like having one hip or shoulder higher than the other, or one foot more turned out than the other, you are putting yourself at extremely elevated risk of injuring yourself. Why? Well these events push your body (often beyond your limits – see DNF numbers of some of these races) and pushing your body will always bring out your weaknesses and imbalances. Yes this means injury and pain.
Do I disapprove of these races? No.
Do I recommend these races? Yes if you are posturally balanced and have trained for them. No if you have not addressed your postural imbalances or are stepping off the couch to do one of these races.
What should you do if you want to compete in one of these races? Give us a call and set up an appointment to have your posture analyzed and we can set you up with a program of e-cises that will start correcting your posture so you’ll be balanced and ready to race!
Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.
Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.
Having experienced many different racing events, we wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as our events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.
Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.
Whatever your level, Spartan Race will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor.
We just held a great workshop this week on “Restoring the Injured Athlete” and had a great response from everyone who attended. We had many people say they really wanted to attend but could not attend for some reason (working, on vacation, live out of state, etc). I wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to learn the information presented could, so I am putting up the main points of the workshop here. We gave everyone at the workshop a fill-in-the-blank page and as we went through the workshop people filled in the answers. I suggest you try filling them out as best you can and then look below for our answers. Have fun!
Restoring the Injured Athlete
Don’t make the 4 biggest mistakes that cause injury.
- _______ through the pain
- Taking pain medications to ____ the _____
- Exercising with _________
- Getting surgery without addressing the _______ _______
Learn the 3 keys that will keep you healthy, strong, and active for the rest of your life.
- Maintain _______ alignment and _______
- Exercising within your current ____ of ______
- Staying _____ __ to your body rather than _____ out
“Never have I experienced such complete pain relief as I have following the Egoscue Method.” – Jack Nicklaus, world famous golfer
“I believe a large part of my success in the NFL is directly related to the unique program of the Egoscue Method.” – John Lynch, 9-time Pro Bowl selection
“I would highly recommend their expertise in pain relief and proper muscular function therapy.” – Tom Dolan, Olympic Gold Medalist
I had specific answer picked out for each blank but as a group we came up with many words that fit perfectly and made a lot of sense. So again there are no right or wrong answers, we are just looking for ideas that make sense, common sense. Here is what I had:
Don’t make the 4 biggest mistakes that cause injury.
- Playing through the pain. (could also be: exercising, working, running, etc.)
- Taking pain medications to hide the pain. (1st word could be: cover, mask, numb. 2nd word could be: symptom, injury)
- Exercising with imbalances. (could also be: compensations, dysfunctions, bad form)
- Getting surgery without addressing the underlying cause. (could also be: root dysfunction, true cause)
Learn the 3 keys that will keep you healthy, strong, and active for the rest of your life.
- Maintain postural alignment and balance. (1st word: proper, functional. 2nd word: posture, function)
- Exercising within your current level of function. (1st word: state, degree. 2nd word: fitness, conditioning)
- Staying tuned in to your body rather than tuned out.
Let me know what you think and if you have any questions.
Remaining physically active as you age, a new study shows, may help protect parts of your brain from shrinking, a process that has been linked to declines in thinking and memory skills. Physical exercise not only protected against such age-related brain changes, but also had more of an effect than mentally and socially stimulating activities.
In the new report, published in the journal Neurology, a team at the University of Edinburgh followed more than 600 people, starting at age 70. The subjects provided details on their daily physical, mental and social activities.
Three years later, using imaging scans, the scientists found that the subjects who engaged in the most physical exercise, including walking several times a week, had less shrinkage and damage in the brain’s white matter, which is considered the “wiring” of the brain’s communication system. The relationship remained even after the researchers controlled for things like age, health status, social class and I.Q.
As far as mental exercise, “we can only say we found no benefit in our sample,” said Dr. Alan J. Gow, an author of the study and a senior research fellow at Edinburgh. He added: “There might be associations earlier in the life course. Such activities also have important associations with well-being and quality of life, so we would certainly agree it is important for older adults to continue to pursue them.”
Because the findings showed only an association, not a causal relationship, the authors could not rule out the possibility that people with less deterioration in their brains were simply more likely to be physically active. But they said that based on their findings, they would advise that people take up physical exercise “whatever their age.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 10/30/2012, on page D6 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Regimens: Exercise May Protect Brain’s Size.
Improve Your Golf Swing Without Touching a Club: The Secret Revealed
You’re standing on the tee-box, driver in hand, ready to hit the best shot of your life, all while hoping to find your ball again afterwards. Sound familiar?
For most golfers, being ready to execute the perfect shot doesn’t always mean they’re actually able to. But I know for a fact that all golfers, no matter what level they’re at, are ready to improve their golf swing and overall game.
The Missing Link
When trying to improve their swing, players usually lean on things like buying new clubs, spending hours at the driving range, and taking innumerable lessons from an instructor. One major thing you aren’t addressing will put an end to all that. Focusing on this one thing will not only banish your pre-swing worries, it will eliminate the need for new clubs and cut down on your driving range time. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. That missing link, that one thing, is your posture.
You’ve probably heard about golf posture before, but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. When I talk about “posture,” I mean alignment and function and their direct impact on performance.
My belief is that the majority of limitations are posture-based. Your posture is off, and either your skills and abilities have diminished or you’re in pain—or both.
Think about this: If you look in the mirror and notice that your right hip is higher than your left hip, we can assume that your right and left hips aren’t doing things equally on both sides. With a golf club in your hands, you are probably unable to load your right hip properly in your backswing. As a result, you compensate.
You’re wasting valuable time, energy and money if you just try to adjust your swing, hit more balls or buy the latest and greatest set of clubs. You need to stop ignoring your right hip elevation.
The following exercises will bring your body back into balance, erasing your physical limitations. Not only will you be able to do the things that you couldn’t physically do before, but golf will become fun again when your body realizes that it can give you the golf-swing motion efficiently without hurting. (Once you have ”used up” these exercises, email firstname.lastname@example.org to discover the next step in your journey to living without limitations! It’s time to start living and golfing pain-free!)
Static Extension Position
Sets/ Duration: 1×3 minutes
- Start on hands and knees with hands shoulder-width apart, palms flat, fingers pointed straight ahead
- Keep arms straight, elbows locked
- Walk hands about six inches forward
- Shift upper body forward so that shoulders are above hands and hips are ahead of knees
- Arch low back, collapse shoulder blades together and drop head down (keep shoulders directly above hands)
Upper Spinal Floor Twist
Sets/Duration:1x two minutes each side
- Lie on one side in fetal position with arms straight out in front of shoulders
- Stack knees one directly atop the other, and keep them there throughout exercise
- Open top arm, lifting it up and over body and letting it rest on floor, or as close to floor as possible
- Move head to look in same direction as lifted arm
- Do not let knees come apart while moving arm to other side; if necessary, use bottom hand to hold knees together
- Remember to breathe; allow your body to open; hold as indicated
- Switch sides and repeat
Cats & Dogs
- Start on hands and knees
- Make sure hips are directly above knees and shoulders directly above hands, with fingers pointed forward
- Cat position: pull hips under, pull head under and push upper back to ceiling, rounding it high
- Dog position: roll hips forward to put arch in back, collapse shoulder blades together and look up
- Slowly move back and forth between the Cat and Dog positions
How The Minimalist Shoe Movement Has Affected My Practice And The Profession
By: Nicholas A Campitelli DPM FACFAS - Published in Podiatry Today
More than two years ago, I made a shift in my practice. People told me that I would lose patients, that my colleagues would be taking care of all the stress fractures that I would create, and that I should lose my license because I was violating the Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm.
I had made a decision to introduce a philosophy into my practice that was not only against podiatric teachings but also against the norm in the field of podiatry. The decision came after experiencing a life-altering choice to avoid shoe gear as we used to know it. Not only did I abandon my traditional running shoes, I also stopped wearing anything with a heel or any arch support.
The naysayers refer to the minimalist shoe as a fad. Many in the field of podiatry still have a hard time accepting the change but it is happening. We have seen a rise in the number of shoe companies that offer minimalist footwear from only six in 2010 to more than 60 currently.1
In a lecture on barefoot running and minimalist shoes at the APMA annual conference earlier this year, Paul Langer, DPM, noted the positive effects of improving form.2 He notes that discussing running form changes with patients is part of his treatment toolbox that includes shoe gear changes and/or arch supports.
Why I Shifted Toward The Minimalist Philosophy
Initially, I saw an influx of patients who wanted verification that they could run with minimalist gear. They inquired about the proper guidelines of transitioning to minimalist footwear. To ensure they were receiving adequate information on proper running form, my practice partnered with the Physical Therapy Center of Akron, Ohio. Here I spent ample hours educating them on this philosophy so everyone was on the same page. Fortunately, they were excited to help runners. They even had a staff member who was an elite runner and already capable of explaining and teaching proper form.
During this initial period, we saw no stress fractures in any of the runners who were transitioning to minimalist footwear. Throughout these two years, we have yet to see a fracture directly related to minimalist shoes or barefoot running. Interestingly enough, I have had three cases of stress fractures in runners who were wearing traditional running shoes.
We tell patients to support the arch, wear thick-cushioned, motion-controlled running shoes and avoid going barefoot. Does it work? Yes, when you add anti-inflammatories, stretching exercises, cortisone injections, night splints, controlled ankle motion walkers, six to 12 months of recovery and more than $1,000 of patient fees.
Instead of asking what is resolving the pain, I like to think of what is actually causing the pain. Studies demonstrated that the tissue we remove during surgery to release the plantar fascia has no inflammatory changes associated with it.3 What may be inflamed are muscular structures — the abductor hallucis, flexor digitorum brevis and abductor digiti minimi. These muscles all originate from the same point on the heel bone as the plantar fascia. They all work in conjunction to help stabilize and support the arch by controlling the flexion capability of the toes. In other words, through the action of flexing or curling the toes against the ground, the arch acquires support or strength in order to function and stabilize the foot during standing, walking and running.
Functioning in rigid or stable shoes lessens the actions of these muscles. This leads to atrophy and the muscles’ job of supporting the arch becomes compromised. With time, the muscles eventually become overused and develop a tendonitis-like situation. Tendonitis usually presents with pain when activity begins. It subsequently improves as the structures warm up only to return later in the day. This explains why patients with plantar fasciitis have pain early in the morning upon rising from bed and immediately upon standing from periods of rest. It is the muscular structures, not the plantar fascia itself, that are inflamed.
Irene Davis, PhD, PT, the Director of the Spaulding National Running Center at the Harvard Medical School, has conducted extensive research on the biomechanics and use of orthotic devices in the lower extremity. She has now changed her mindset on using orthotics as a permanent treatment for overuse lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries.4 This comes after many years of research and significant grant funding.
As Dr. Davis notes, the evolution of her thought process was a culmination of a number of things over several years, including the research she was conducting on the impact forces known as impact transients and an understanding of how these impacts were related to injury. In her research, she noted how forefoot strikers do not have impact transients and how barefoot runners naturally do not typically land on their heels. This led Dr. Davis to believe that barefoot running was a great way to encourage a natural foot strike pattern, promoting strong feet.
Along the same lines, consider flip-flops. Are flip-flops bad for our feet? Not necessarily. What is bad is functioning in them with weak foot and leg musculature. As a person functions all winter in a supportive shoe, albeit with an arch and/or heel, these muscles weaken or atrophy. An abrupt change to a flip-flop then causes these muscles to become rapidly overused. When do people make a gradual adaptation to flip-flops? Rarely. They put them on and typically wear them for a period of hours or sometimes up to an entire day. It would be comparable to not running for six months or more, and then running for several hours straight.
How I Advise Patients On Running Barefoot
I noticed a common response from runners and even patients with chronic plantar fasciitis when I introduced the minimalist concept.
“Everyone else is telling me I should be wearing arch supports, running shoes, and not to go barefoot!”
My reply: “Is it working?”
Obviously, it was not or they would not have been here for help.
How do I treat these patients with acute plantar fasciitis? I instruct them to rest the foot until the pain becomes tolerable. Then they can begin exercises for strengthening the muscle and realigning the muscle fibers. They can accomplish this by decreasing activity, wearing a cushioned running shoe temporarily and possibly an over-the-counter orthotic if necessary. The key is stressing the word temporary. Obviously, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), icing and stretching play a vital role in healing. However, the key is educating patients on what caused the condition and getting them to strengthen their feet.
If the situation is chronic in nature (greater than six months) and patients have failed other treatment with orthotics and motion control shoes, my approach differs. I will make the suggestion to begin going barefoot 20 minutes a day and gradually progressing each week. Of course, patients respond by saying all of the other physicians have advised not going barefoot. My response is to question if wearing shoes and orthotics worked for them. A more regimented program of physical therapy also helps.
There is one caveat to this treatment regimen. For those who are required to be in rigid steel toed work boots for eight to 12 hours a day, sometimes an orthotic is the only option to treat these people as they need external control. They have no ability to function adequately in such a rigid shoe.
Most of my progressive treatment thus far has been on runners. I have stopped implementing foot orthotics in all of my patients who are runners. I encourage transitioning to a midfoot or forefoot strike pattern. Of course, this is not the only solution as we also discuss training patterns and workouts that could lead to overuse. For those who are not suffering from chronic injury, the goal is to teach proper running form and not focus on a change in shoe gear. We do stress the importance of how we are no longer recommending shoes based on foot type and motion control.
As we continue to see more of a shift toward focusing on encouraging natural foot movement and strength as opposed to control, a reduction in plantar fasciitis and other chronic overuse injuries is likely to occur in my opinion.
1. Dicharry J. Anatomy for runners: unlocking your athletic potential for health, speed and injury prevention. Skyhorse Publishing, New York, 2012, p. 135.
2. Langer PR. Barefoot running/minimalist shoes: is there truly a controversy here? National APMA Annual Scientific Meeting, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C., August 2012.
3. Lemont H, Ammirati KM, Usen N. Plantar fasciitis: a degenerative process (fasciosis) without inflammation. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2003; 93(3):234-7.
4. Personal communication with Irene Davis, PhD, PT.
UPDATED: 04:51 EST, 24 January 2011
Don’t copy those slouching celebs. Bad posture won’t just cause a bad back, but depression too!
At first glance, it was hard to put a finger on it. As the succession of celebrities stepped on to the red carpet at the Golden Globes, there was no denying that most of the outfits were exquisite.
The jewels and accessories were dazzling, while the hair and make-up was perfect. Yet many of the female actresses and singers looked distinctly uncomfortable in front of the world’s cameras. The reason? Their posture was appalling.
Actress Michelle Williams looked round-shouldered in her putty-coloured number by Valentino, while country music star Carrie Underwood’s sunken chest did nothing for her strapless sequin dress. Even the statuesque Tilda Swinton appeared to stoop.
Slouching: Emma Watson, left, and Anne Hathaway strike ungainly poses on the red carpet
And it’s not only celebrities whose posture is shocking. One in five people in Britain visits their GP complaining of back pain each year — yet many of them could be cured by learning to stand and sit properly.
It’s not only spinal problems either. Researchers at North State Dakota University have found a link between poor posture and depression, and many experts believe stooping and slouching could be associated with weight gain, heartburn, migraines, anxiety and respiratory conditions.
So, what is good posture and how can we achieve it?
‘By drawing back the shoulders we create enough space within the body for the connective tissues inside to align themselves correctly,’ says body alignment expert Chris James.
‘Imagine hanging a piece of string above you when you’re in a seated position — it should pass directly through the head, midway between the shoulder blades and through the centre of the pelvis to the floor.
‘Good posture allows for the free flow of blood and oxygen around the body, which forms the foundation of good health. Without proper alignment, the body can attract disease.’
The good news is that it’s relatively simple to correct poor posture — whatever your age.
Physiotherapist Cheyne Voss says the process of diagnosing and tackling poor posture begins at a muscular level. ‘People who slouch often lack sufficient support in the natural curve of their lumbar [lower] spine,’ he says.
‘As a result, the pectoral muscles of the chest are shortened while the trapezius muscle in the back becomes elongated. This puts pressure on to discs and nerves in the spine — causing pain.’
Poor posture: From left, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow and Keira Knightley
A McKenzie lumbar roll (£9.50; amazon.co.uk), which clips on to your chair and supports the lower back in the curve of the lower spine, can help this, maintaining a correct spinal alignment while sitting and encouraging a more upright position.
Voss advises squeezing your arms against the sides of your body to lower the shoulders, then contracting the core muscles of the stomach to add support to the lumbar spine.
It’s not only standing or sitting still that causes a problem. Our ‘dynamic posture’ — which occurs while we’re moving — also causes as many problems as our static posture.
Women who wear heels have a tendency to tilt their pelvis backwards, over-extending the arch at the base of the spine. Also, the so-called ‘photo pose’ that most actresses adopt (one leg in front of the other with one hand on a tilted hip and shoulders at an angle) might look good in pictures, but in reality it is forcing the body into a position that’s far from well balanced.
Yet while changing our physical position is crucial to halting the negative impacts of posture, experts believe it’s only one part of the battle.
Gerardo Reis, senior naturopath at London’s Alchemy Centre, believes poor posture has a closer link to our diet and weight than we realise. ‘Having poor posture can adversely affect many different systems in the body, including the nerves leading to the digestive organs,’ he says. ‘If the body’s ability to break down food is impaired, it can lead to an accumulation of toxins.
‘This may affect the thyroid, causing weight gain, bloating, hormonal imbalance and even the health of our skin and hair.
‘Stress causes people to hunch their shoulders. It’s a subconscious reaction to the pressure. Herbal teas including skullcap, withania and passion flower can help loosen postural tension.’
Podiatrist Margaret Dabbs believes that improving our ‘dynamic posture’ begins with our feet. ‘When walking, our weight rolls from the heel to the toe,’ she says.
‘The foot should be supported throughout this movement. Without this, our weight distribution can stray, forcing our upper body to lean backwards or forwards.’
Specialist shoes such as FitFlops can help. They encourage the correct alignment of the knees and pelvis and fix the natural curve of the spine into a good posture.
Frequent use of a rowing machine or repetitive exercises such as press-ups — which encourage the back to round — can worsen poor posture.
Consultant psychologist Ingrid Collins believes there’s an intrinsic link between the body’s position and our ‘psychological posture’.
‘At a cellular level, when happiness molecules — or endorphins — produced within the brain circulate in the blood, they send a signal to every cell that we’re happy and healthy,’ she says.
‘If we arrange ourselves physically in a positive manner with the shoulders back, the spine straight and the chest open, it informs the brain to send out more endorphins, triggering a feeling we experience as happiness.’
To tackle physical and psychological posture simultaneously, Chris James integrates yoga with Feldenkrais — a method of exercise developed by an Israeli physicist and martial arts expert during the mid-20th century.
Unlike traditional yoga or Pilates, Feldenkrais practitioners guide you through a series of subtle movements.
If all else fails, try Watsu, a water-based therapy similar to Shiatsu massage, which involves being gently swayed around a private pool.
HOW TO PROMOTE GOOD POSTURE
- Put a sign at eye level in front of your desk reminding yourself to gently squeeze your shoulders together and not to slump when you are sitting.
- Smile. Positive ‘facial posture’ plays an essential part in signaling an upward lift in our mood.
- Eating 200mg of oily fish twice a week will help to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Stretch every so often at your desk. Place your hands behind your head, squeeze your elbows together and gently movebackwards until you feel a stretch in the tight area of your upper back.
- Persist. Retraining your muscles to keep you in an upright position can seem like hard work at first, but the more you practise, the more natural it becomes.